Moving to Hungary

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Expats choosing to move to Hungary will find that it is the perfect mix of Eastern and Western European cultures. Not only is Hungary one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting close to 9 million tourists per year, but it is also a popular destination for expats employed in the booming private sector that sprung up after Hungary’s transition to a market economy in the 1990s.

Hungary is an ideal expat destination and Budapest is the most popular city. Hungary is situated in the centre of Europe, a convenient location for expats wanting to explore the continent. It shares its northern borders with Slovakia and the Ukraine, while Romania takes up its eastern boundary and Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia are situated along the southern and southwestern borders. Austria is on the western border.

Geographically, Hungary (and even Budapest) is divided by the Danube River, which runs from Slovakia in the north to Serbia in the south. The countryside ranges from rolling plains to the mountainous eastern stretch of the Alps. Budapest is both the capital and largest city in Hungary with over 2.5 million people in the wider metropolis. The city is divided into two halves by the Danube River and was formally two distinct cities, Buda on the western bank and Pest on the eastern bank. Buda is a popular residential area, while Pest is the city’s commercial core, and home to many industries and businesses.

Although it accounts for 60 percent of industry in Hungary, Budapest is more than just a political, cultural and commercial hub. Time Magazine, the International Council of Monuments and Sites, and the New York Times Magazine have all named Budapest as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Alongside the beautiful architecture and UNESCO world heritage sites, Budapest offers residents a range of world-class shopping opportunities and some of the best nightlife in Europe.

Some industries that have experienced a peak in foreign investment include information technology, luxury vehicle production and renewable energy systems. Some smaller areas of foreign investment include textiles and food industries. High-end tourism is an ever-expanding industry in Hungary.

Hungary has well-developed road, rail and water traffic networks. Budapest has an easy-to-use metro system, including three lines and a fourth one that is currently being built. The Hungarian healthcare system has had its ups and downs, while good quality public healthcare is available and participation in the government’s insurance scheme is compulsory, many expats choose to take out private insurance as well.

The official language of educational instruction in Hungary is Hungarian (Magyar); however, there are a number of international schools in Budapest that offer English-language education.

Banking in Hungary is relatively hassle-free, but it can be expensive and expats are advised to shop around to compare all fees and charges. Foreigners can open an account in Hungary once they have a residence permit and permanent address in the country. Expats planning to move to Hungary can expect progressive tax rates and reduced VAT on staple foods and services.

With a popular wine region, a vibrant café culture and some great restaurants, Hungarian food and wine is something to savour. Paprika is an integral part of many popular Hungarian dishes such as goulash, dumplings, goose liver and roast goose leg and palacsinta (sweet and savoury Hungarian pancakes). Hungarians see their cuisine, heritage and culture as intricately linked and expats moving to Hungary are sure to enjoy all aspects of life in the country.

Hungary is a wonderful expat destination with a stable economy and a government intent on expansion and change, particularly when it comes to the European Union and adopting EU guidelines and requirements. Hungary has a continental climate. Summers are warm and while many expats may find the winters cold, the warmth of the Hungarian people definitely makes up for this. Hungary is home to some of Europe’s friendliest people, and offers both abundant economic opportunities and a slower pace of life that rewards expats seeking a balanced life abroad.

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